My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is something a little different: an open letter to a hedge fund billionaire (and all-around pompous ass).
... Steve Benen: "You want a populist president, putting the interests of working families and the middle class above all? You’ve got it. For 55 minutes, Barack Obama made the case for progressive governance while destroying the foundation for the right’s vision." ...
... David Dayen of Firedoglake, who has been appropriately aggressive in his criticism of President Obama, gives the President mostly high marks for his speech yesterday but notes that Obama is still pushing the "belt-tightening" bit, which is stupid. Dayen is no Obamabot. ...
... Charles Pierce has another good take, calling out the good, the bad & the meh. And Pierce gets the Tea Party to a tee. ...
... Greg Sargent: "Obama’s speech in Kansas, which just concluded, was the most direct condemnation of wealth and income inequality, and the most expansive moral defense of the need for government activism to combat it, that Obama has delivered in his career." ...
... New York Times Editors: "Tuesday’s speech, in fact, seemed expressly designed to counter Mitt Romney’s argument that business, unfettered, will easily restore American jobs and prosperity. Teddy Roosevelt knew better 101 years ago, and it was gratifying to hear his fire reflected by President Obama."
In a New York Times eXaminer essay, Prof. Rena Steinzor of the Center for Progressive Reform explains why Cass Sunstein's little in-house (the "house" being the White House) industry lobbying and bean-counting organization is undermining agency and Congressionally-imposed regulations -- at a cost to Americans Sunstein doesn't bother to calculate. And while she's at it she lampoons David Brooks for his man-crush on Sunstein.
Neil MacFarquhar of the New York Times: "Rather than responding to the motivations and demands behind the antigovernment uprising, opponents and political analysts say, the government [of Syria] has stubbornly clung to the narrative that it is besieged by a foreign plot."
Curtis Cartier of Seattle Weekly: "A U.S. District Court judge in Portland has drawn a line in the sand between 'journalist' and 'blogger.' And for Crystal Cox, a woman on the latter end of that comparison, the distinction has cost her $2.5 million.... Cox argued in court that the reason her post was more factual was because she had an inside source that was leaking her information. And since Oregon is one of 40 U.S. states including Washington with media shield laws, Cox refused to divulge who her source was.... The judge in Cox's case, however, ruled that the woman did not qualify for shield-law protection not because of anything she wrote, but because she wasn't employed by an official media establishment." ...
... Cartier, again: "Bruce E. H. Johnson ... is a veteran litigator in the field of free speech and media law. In 2006 he drafted Washington state's media shield legislation, and in 2007 the state legislature passed it into law. He says that had Cox's case been heard in a Washington court, the outcome (at least in regards to the shield law) would have most likely been different."
Peter Wehrwein of Harvard Health Watch: "Dr. Michael Roizen, of RealAge.com fame, says presidents age twice as fast as normal when they’re in office. The main cause, he says, is 'unrequited stress — they don’t have enough friends to mitigate the stress.' ... The only problem with this notion of accelerated presidential aging is that it just ain’t so, according to S. Jay Olshansky, a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a longevity expert. In an article in tomorrow’s Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Olshansky says his research into presidential life expectancy found ... most of them lived long lives and beat the longevity expectations for their time."
What I Did on My Vacation. John Leland of the New York Times: Today, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed is at work in his cubicle at the New York State Transportation Department in Buffalo. But for eight months, starting last November, he took a leave of absence, which he used to serve as "the prime minister of his native country, Somalia, one of the most chaotic nations on earth."
Kevin Liptak of CNN: "Donald Trump's Republican presidential debate took another hit Wednesday when White House hopeful Mitt Romney said he wouldn't participate in the event." With video.
Right Wing World
Civil Right, Tea Party-Style. Dana Milbank: ultra-conservatives Members of Congress has become the champions of minority fetuses. ...
... Civil rights for fetuses, yes; for gay actual people, not so much:
Just when you thought Barack Obama couldn’t get any more out of touch with America’s values, AP reports his administration wants to make foreign aid decisions based on gay rights. This administration’s war on traditional American values must stop. Promoting special rights for gays in foreign countries is not in America’s interests and not worth a dime of taxpayers’ money. -- Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) ...
... The underlying news story is here; also linked in today's Ledes.
Los Angeles Times: "At a packed City Council meeting ... Los Angeles lawmakers Tuesday called for more regulations on how much corporations can spend on political campaigns. The vote in support of state and federal legislation that would end so-called 'corporate personhood' is largely symbolic.... The council resolution includes support for a constitutional amendment that would assert that corporations are not entitled to constitutional rights, and that spending money is not a form of free speech."
New York Times: "Harry Morgan, the prolific character actor best known for playing the acerbic but kindly Colonel Potter in the long-running television series “M*A*S*H,” died on Wednesday morning at his home in Los Angeles. He was 96."
New York Times: "Health and Human Services Secretary overruled the ’s decision that emergency contraceptives be sold freely over the counter, including to teenagers 16 years old and younger."on Wednesday
Philadelphia Inquirer: "Prosecutors on Wednesday filed new child sex-abuse charges against Jerry Sandusky, bringing to 10 the number of boys they say the former football coach molested or raped over the past decade. State police arrested Sandusky at his State College home and led him, draped in a blue-and-white Penn State track suit, in handcuffs into court."
New York Times: "The 70th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack will be the last one marked by the survivors’ association. With a concession to the reality of time — of age, of deteriorating health and death — the association will disband on Dec. 31."
Washington Post: "A Republican Party that has for decades benefited from a commitment to lower taxes is now finding itself on the defensive on the issue, as members face a deep split over a Democratic plan to extend a payroll tax reduction.... House Republicans will hold a closed-door meeting Wednesday to discuss what to do."
Guardian: "President Barack Obama has told US officials to consider how countries treat its gay and lesbian populations when making decisions about allocating foreign aid. In the first ever US government strategy to deal with human rights abuses against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) citizens abroad, a presidential memo issued on Tuesday instructs agencies using foreign aid to promote such rights."
New York Times: "Politicians and officials criticized the officers heaped scorn on revelers at the annual West Indian American Day Parade in Brooklyn. But, despite repeated requests, one person refused to comment: the police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly."on Tuesday and called for investigations after the release of comments on Facebook in which users claiming to be
AP: "With years of freedom hanging in the balance, disgraced former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Wednesday gets his final shot at trying to persuade a federal judge not to send him away for a lengthy prison term." ...
... Chicago Tribune: "Two things were clear Tuesday by the close of the first day of Rod Blagojevich's sentencing hearing: The former governor was likely going to be hit with a stiff sentence, and his legal team had abandoned its early hope of him avoiding prison altogether." ...
... Update: "Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years in prison and fined $20,000 for what U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald famously referred to as a criminal corruption crime spree at the time of Blagojevich’s arrest three years ago."
New York Times: "Senate Republicans on Tuesday blocked confirmation of Caitlin J. Halligan, a prominent New York lawyer, to be a federal appeals court judge, raising the question of whether a political deal to prevent the of most judicial nominations has broken down.... In a statement shortly after the Senate vote, Mr. Obama expressed disappointment and accused Republicans of undermining the judicial confirmation process for partisan purposes."
Washington Post: "A Virginia appeals court declared Thomas Haynesworth an innocent man Tuesday, clearing his name and acknowledging that he spent 27 years behind bars for rapes he did not commit. It is the first time the state has issued a 'writ of actual innocence' in a rape case without the certainty of DNA evidence. Haynesworth, 46, was supported by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) and two state prosecutors — all of whom concluded that he was mistakenly identified by a rape victim as he walked to a Richmond market for sweet potatoes and bread one February afternoon in 1984."